16 Nov 2021 4:21 PM +00:00 UTC

Halo Infinite's Confusing Beta, Launch, Full Release, Season 1, and More Explained

Halo Infinite promotional artwork
Credit: 343 Industries
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Halo Infinite, 343 Industries' 'reboot' of the Halo franchise after Halo 5 in 2015, launches on December 8th, 2021, but ... not really. Halo Infinite is also free-to-play, but, also, no it's not. You'd be right to say Halo Infinite is free and out now, and you'd also be right to say Halo Infinite is a premium $60 AAA game that's not even really coming out until 2022. In this article, we'll explain what's going on with Halo Infinite, when it's coming out, and what it'll cost you to actually play.

Halo Infinite's Release Date Explained

Halo Infinite promotional artwork soldiers
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Credit: 343 Industries

While Halo Infinite did have a multiplayer test for players to try out earlier on, Halo Infinite's full multiplayer component is actually out now and has been since November 15th, 2021, but it's being branded as a beta. Though a beta, full progression will carry over to the 'full launch' on December 8th, and the Halo Infinite Battle Pass and Season 1 began with the beta.

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Halo Infinite as a beta is truly only a beta in name as all of the launch maps and modes are in the beta, and the live service elements of Infinite are already up and running. Naturally, balance will be continuously tweaked and updates pushed out, but Halo Infinite as a competitive multiplayer experience is out now, and December 8th won't change that.

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However, Halo Infinite's campaign is still scheduled for release on December 8th, 2021. Though, this won't be the 'full' campaign experience either, because campaign co-op isn't coming until 2022. As part of Infinite's live service roadmap, campaign co-op is currently projected to come in Season 2, which will be approximately three months after the game's official December launch.

Forge also won't be available at launch, Halo's famous custom-content creation tool, and is also scheduled for release in 2022, after campaign co-op. In their roadmap, 343 projects Forge to arrive in Season 3, which will be approximately six months after the game's official December launch.

In some very real sense, Halo Infinite won't be fully 'out' until its third season or mid-way through 2022. This, of course, comes after Halo Infinite's initial massive delay from 2020 into 2021 and after the delay to campaign co-op and Forge into 2022.

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Is Halo Infinite Free-to-Play?

Halo Infinite promotional artwork forest
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Credit: 343 Industries

The short answer here is yes and no. If you think of Halo as simply a competitive multiplayer experience and nothing more, i.e. a variety of modes where you face off against other players, then Halo Infinite is free-to-play. Plus, you can download it now.

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Since it's free-to-play and available on Steam or on Xbox consoles, accessing Halo Infinite isn't hard, but you can also get access to the multiplayer component of Halo Infinite as well as the game's campaign, when it releases, through Xbox Game Pass.

However, you can actually buy Halo Infinite for the traditional AAA price of $60, too. This will include Halo Infinite's campaign as well as eventually campaign co-op. The campaign portion of the game will include some stuff usable in multiplayer, but the overwhelming majority of content in the premium Halo Infinite release is simply the campaign and nothing more.

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While campaign co-op will be exclusive to the Game Pass and the traditional, paid version of Halo Infinite, it's technically unclear if Forge will be exclusive to the premium version of the game, but it's extremely likely it too will be free when it eventually releases, as it is a function of the Halo multiplayer experience and doesn't have much to do with the campaign.

Live Service Elements of Halo Infinite Explained

Halo Infinite promotional artwork
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Credit: 343 Industries

As mentioned before, Halo Infinite is structured as a traditional live service with seasonal content updates and, naturally, a battle pass system. Seasons, with Season 1 being live at the time of writing, will be free for everyone and introduce new maps, modes, weapons, and more.

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With each season comes a new battle pass that can be purchased for 1,000 credits of Halo virtual currency or $10. The in-game shop also sells battle pass bundles that come with credits as well as boosts to quickly advance through the battle pass.

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You don't have to buy the battle pass, like these systems usually work, and can instead level it up for free to unlock over 60 rewards in the 100-tier battle pass. However, like other systems too, the coolest rewards and most interesting cosmetics will be gated behind the premium tiers.

Unlike other battle pass systems, in Halo Infinite battle passes don't expire. This means that you can swap between challenges in different battle passes attached to different seasons regardless of which season is currently going on. So, in Halo buying a battle pass is somewhat more of a solid investment in the sense that it isn't a limited-time subscription.

Halo Infinite promotional artwork Master Chief
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Credit: 343 Industries

Unfortunately, while most of the battle pass information on paper sounds okay, players aren't happy with the system as it is set up at launch. Essentially, you don't just passively earn a ton of battle pass XP by simply playing games or performing well in-game but you instead complete weekly challenges to earn XP to rank up the battle pass.

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Now, since battle passes don't expire and Infinite is expected to be supported for years to come, admittedly more time can be spent on an individual battle pass in Infinite than other live serice games with battle passes, but these challenges make leveling the battle pass extremely slow and incredibly grindy. Most players simply won't be able to invest the necessary time to max out the battle pass with casual play throughout a season.

Since currently Halo Infinite is technically in beta and the beta just launched, things are definitely going to change in the world of Halo, but we don't yet know if and how the battle pass system will be adjusted. Since it's already a purchaseable thing, if it gets massively redesigned, 343 will have to be careful not to upset people that already paid them for said thing.